Increased investment in defence will see demand for engineers soar

In 2016, the Australian Government released its Defence White Paper that sets out its plan to invest in defence to secure and protect our interests in future decades. What changes have been rolled out so far, what can we expect in the future, and how will the projects impact demand for engineers?


Building capacity offshore

Australia’s design, construction and sustainability will be tested like never before. 

Australia’s national security depends on secure sea lanes, that’s why the largest defence procurement program in Australia’s history involves the acquisition of 12 Future Submarines. Spending in the order of $50 billion, the SEA 1000 Program program brings challenges in design, construction and sustainability that Australia has never experienced before and will require unique skills that can see the project through to its ultimate completion by 2050.

The SEA 5000 (Phase 1) or Future Frigate Program will replace Australia’s existing fleet of Anzac Class frigates with nine anti-submarine warfare frigates. The program, estimated to be worth more than $35 billion, will be equipped with a range of offensive and self-protection systems including the Australian-developed CEA Phased-Array Radar. To be built in Adelaide, it is anticipated that the first Future Frigate will be in service by the late 2020s and will have the range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region.

By 2021, the Australian Defence Force will also have the first of 12 new SEA 1180 (Phase 1) Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV). The OPVs will replace thirteen Armidale Class Patrol Boats and become the primary Australian Defence Force asset for maritime patrol and response duties. A highly skilled Australian shipbuilding workforce will be required to support this program in both South Australia and Western Australia where the OPVs will be built.

Equipping defence on land

New vehicles will be replacing the old. 

The Australian Government’s defence investments onshore will deliver 675 new vehicles over the next 15 years. The Land 400 Land Combat Vehicle System is expected to cost up to $20 billion and is the largest and most expensive project in the history of the Australian Army. The new vehicles will replace the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle and M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier fleets with Armoured Fighting Vehicles that have the firepower, protection, and mobility to defeat both lethal and adaptive adversaries into the future. They will also enhance the Joint Land Force with sensors, weapons and information systems that are networked to strategic intelligence platforms.

The first stage of the project will commence manufacturing in South East Queensland with further phases to be put to market later this year. It is anticipated that the entire fleet will require maintenance and support for up to 30 years.

Securing talent is crucial to the success of these projects

With increased investment in assets comes a need for qualified people to fill headcount quotas on these projects. In some situations, this may involve looking for candidates who have transferable skill sets while in others it may require specialists with specific types of engineering experience. Demand will be high and fulfilling quotas will rely on partnering with a recruiter who specialises in identifying skill sets and finding specialist candidates across a broad range of engineering disciplines.